Review of BSF Bible Study Fellowship – children’s bible study / ministry

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I’ve heard about Bible Study Fellowship (bsf) for years.  People have TRIED to tell me how great it is, but I thought NO WAY.  (you can’t fool me) . I’ve read reviews and heard people talk about it as if it’s some sort of strict military regime. NO way, not for me. First of all, I don’t like rules. Okay, God’s rules – yes, but I generally get annoyed with too many rules. I know this may be a shocker, but it takes everything in me not to press a button that says “do not press”, “do not touch” or “very hot”.  I’m still a work in progress.

For  years, I’ve heard how great bsf bible study is. While researching online and asking friends, here are some of the rules I heard: “ Don’t share! Don’t look at my answers! Top Secret! Don’t or you’ll get kicked out! No reading commentaries! No skipping class”.  I repeatedly said: “No way, no way, no way, not for me, don’t even talk about it to me.  I am not sitting under someone’s ridiculous rules”. However, as life will have it, I suddenly found myself at a BSF study this past August. I thought – for sure! I’ll be out of here in a few weeks when I find something wrong.

Now, coming to the end of BSF this year, I can tell you I have enjoyed it and I will be back again. I did not intend to end up here,   I was looking for a good weekday bible club for my children. I couldn’t find anything that had something for all ages – all on one night. Awana was nice, but some are good and some are slacking. The good are somehow supernaturally full within 24 hours of signup, wait…. make that 1 hour of sign up. I think it’s hierarchy – you know how that goes. The other good local Awana only had elementary level available. When I found out BSF had a bible study class for grades K-12 –woohoo,  but wait…I had to go too, so there I was.

BSF has it’s good and well, it’s annoying things. Sure! Just like anything else. Just like church- I still haven’t found one that is perfect . Same with other bible studies I’ve been in. I love the Beth Moore studies, but I don’t agree with a few of her teachings, but that doesn’t stop me from studying her books. I don’t 100% agree with other teachers either, but I still listen and study. Sometimes they’ve convinced me, and other times not. I always end up learning something. It all depends on my attitude and my decision to fully seek the Lord in the study through the scriptures. If I blocked out everyone that didn’t agree 100% with me, I’d be stuck in a corner by myself all my life.

Here’s the 411 if your interested:

The basics:

We meet once a week all year (August- May). My group has about 150-300 women and we break up into small groups of 12-15. Each week we begin our 2.5 hour study with everyone from all groups meeting together to sing praises and hear of upcoming events. From there,  the large crowd breaks up into their small groups. Each group has a facilitator / group leader who leads us through the 6 day homework assignment that we were given for the week. People share what they’ve learned and answer the questions. Reading some reviews, I’ve found that some leaders are very serious and strict, but others are normal and welcoming. I guess each experience depends on the people around you. Thank God! I was put in a normal group with nice people.

Initially my leader scared me! She was super serious about the name tags and getting our homework done. I never had my name tag and I was called out until I got my act together. I’m not serious about stuff like that, but I know they have their reasons and so forth….. .Anyways, despite my first impressions, my group was wonderful. My leader is caring, loving and is always there for anyone. The group of women I was with was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed my time with them. I had a good group of friendly women. They all knew scripture well but no one was “the know it all”, the “I’m so much better than you” or “so sorry you aren’t as intelligent as I am” people – you know what I’m saying? I’ve had a few of those in past bible studies and Phew! Those were some memorable moments. That kind of attitude can really take away from the study and why we are there – to glorify God , to seek Him – not to put ourselves on a pedestal. “All hail to me, you paupers” anywhoo……

After about 35-45 minutes of small group, all the groups meet once again together to sing – again – and hear a lecture – or talk – or whatever you call it. Then go home!

 The Good:

The study keeps you in the scriptures daily. Homework takes me 3-5 hours a week, but I go overboard. Maybe 15-20 minutes a day in homework would be all you really need. It’s all scripture based. You read the bible, you answer the questions. My favorite thing about bsf is that my children have an amazing new knowledge of scripture. All my children now know the book of Matthew and other scriptures very well. They’ve studied end times, Jesus’s last days and all the parables in great depth. My youngest can now reason with me and discuss scripture. Being in public school all day, it is difficult to really teach scripture to our children. Sunday school is good, but I wanted my children to learn more. I really believe God gave my children understanding as they read. I would preread some things and thought – Oh no- how can I explain this to them?,  but they got it. God blessed this year as we studied. My children got an amazing blessing of learning the Word. I am so happy about this. Studying the miracles has increased their faith. They now have a new desire to continue learning and seeking. Could I ask for anything more? I am blessed. Getting to homework wasn’t easy with their schedules and work from school. I would read the scriptures each night and at the end of the week we would answer our questions.

It’s a great study for anyone – even if you’ve never read the bible.  I think this is wonderful.  No one is felt left out or felt like they know more or less than the other person. All are welcome- that’s just the way God is too.  If you have read the bible many times, it’s still a good intense study – it is what you make it to be.  I believe each scripture verse holds a key to deeper and deeper mysteries. The more we study, the more understanding the Lord gives us.

It’s a very controlled environment, so the over-talker can’t take over the entire class . I’ve seen happen many times in other studies. In bsf small group, everyone gets an equal chance to talk and discuss.

 The real:

    Let’s be real. If you think my kids were super happy and my life is a field of daisy’s as I went to bsf all year, think again. Our bsf nights were on school nights- cranky, tired, crazy, chaotic, complaining, whining, fighting – ugh, I’m getting sick just thinking about it. This also made it very difficult with homework. Not only homework, but we do other things after school as well : piano, guitar, soccer, dance, youth group, volunteer hours, drama practice. Yes, life is busy! Somehow, miraculously, we were able to finish the year. We only missed a few scattered days. BSF is not a youth group nor is it similar to awana, it’s a lot more of intense learning. Yes, my kids would complain, whine and roll around the floor telling me they refused to go, but that doesn’t bother me. They go anyway and guaranteed – every night when we all pile in the car to drive back home, everyone is happy they went. In fact, the one that throws the biggest tantrum is the one who says “You know what mom, I know it’s not easy to get here, but I’m glad I went”. Always! Every ride home I always hear how happy each one was to be there.

Secondly –it can be exhausting at the end of a long day. I have to prepare dinner, do homework, look somewhat presentable and I drag myself there. I thought maybe this is good- going tired, because this keeps me quiet. I’m not overly talkative in my small group because I’m about to pass out from not only my day, but the tantrums and the chaos from the car ride there. I think I was almost on the verge of tears yesterday. One daughter threw a major tantrum because she had a lot of homework. I didn’t have the energy to jump to the back of the car and strangle her so I just kept saying  “Jesus!” for my entire 25 minute ride there. Surely he answered my cry. Hey! God commands us:

 So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Duet 11

  No one promised us that this would be easy, but the Lord is always there to help us through. Remember the enemy is out to destroy your children. How will they know right from wrong if we continue to let society, media, and the world shape, manipulate and brainwash our children? It is our responsibility to teach our children God’s word.

 The annoying:

I hate to say this, but I know people want the truth. The truth is, you can find annoying anywhere. These are some things that bother me. # 1 rules. I know you need rules, but in my group, I only ‘heard of rules’ no one actually sat me down with rules at bsf so depending on where you are and who leads – who knows. I only heard of bsf rules through the rumor mill, but no one every told me anything except “Where’s your name tag?”. My rule was to have a name tag, so after a while I finally gave in. I  think they are pretty strict about attendance. I heard if you miss a certain amount of days you need an approval to get back in- otherwise they fill your spot with another person and you are OUT. I think this rule would aggravate most people to running away, but keep calm and carry on….. ( Don’t run away yet)

Occasionally the notes annoy me because I’ve found things that are questionable. That doesn’t happen often, maybe 0-5% of the time. Otherwise the notes are great and full of great information, historical facts and biblical insight. Just throwing that in there – remember God’s word is the ultimate truth. Have a Berean attitude with everything else – that means to search the scriptures tot make sure that what you have been taught is truth.  Ask for wisdom and discernment as you study.  You must seek out the truth yourself as a Christ follower and be careful of every word spoken by teacher and preachers today.

This has been the best bible study my children have ever had. I was able to walk them through the scripture and homework throughout the week. If a question frustrated them for more than 30 seconds, it was time to move on to the next one. Bible study is not supposed to be frustrating, but enjoyable and fun. Like searching for ancient treasures!

**  I heard you can’t do research or read commentaries when answering questions. I think they say this so everyone doesnt come in with the same answer that someone else studied for them. It’s good to read reviews and sermons if you don’t understand- search for your answers if you need to and answer from you heart. I’ve also heard people say we can’t discuss notes outside of class . I never heard that in my study either,  the leader would always tell us to go out and share our faith and what we learned in the scripture with others around us.

Y Ya – as my mom in law says  (or that’s it! in spanish)

And that’s it!  I’ll be back again next year and I’m looking forward to next year’s study. My children have already expressed how excited they are about next years study as well and want to continue. That is a miracle in itself.  If you are contemplating joining bsf , try it out before you judge. I think it really depends on the leaders and the people in your group. It’s been a blessing for me and my children. Truly amazing.

  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

 

For more information: https://www.bsfinternational.org/

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